This section is from the book "A Compend Of The Principles Of Homoeopathy", by William Boericke. Also available from Amazon: A Compend of the Principles of Homoeopathy as Taught by Hahnemann.
The author of Homoeopathy, in his work on "The Chronic Diseases," has established three precautionary rules, which he has impressed in the most urgent manner upon the minds of his disciples, and which no homoeopathic physician can violate without committing the greatest faults in practice. They are the following:
1. To suppose that the doses which he had recommended for every anti-psoric remedy, and which experience had taught him to be the proper doses, are too small.
2. The improper selection of a drug.
3. The too great haste in administering a new dose. Precautionary Rule No. 1. - Smallness of dose. The debates relative to the smallness of doses are far from being closed. The more that has been written on that subject for some years past, the more contradiction has been heaped upon contradiction. What is a truly remarkable circumstance in this discussion - a circumstance which is by no means creditable to the opponents of small doses - is the fact that the manner in which Hahnemann gradually arrived at the introduction of the small doses in practice, in consequence of repeated trials, observations, experience, seems either to have been forgotten or entirely ignored.
It is experience, and nothing else, which led the carefully-observing author of that immortal text-book to that minuteness of doses which has now become an object of derision. In the second edition of "Chronic Diseases," after having spoken of homoeopathic aggravations, Hahnemann continues thus: "If the original symptoms of the disease continue with the same intensity in the succeeding days as in the beginning, or if this intensity increases, this is a sure sign that, although the remedy may be homoeopathic, yet the magnitude of the dose will make the cure impossible. The remedial agent, by its powerful disproportionate action, not only neutralizes its genuine homoeopathic effects, but established, moreover, in the system, a medicinal disease by the side of the natural disturbance, which is even strengthened by the medicine".
That portion of the preceding quotation, which is printed in italics, embodies a great truth which has never been denied, which has been abundantly confirmed by the numerous results of the allopathic treatment of chronic diseases, and is, therefore, well worthy of attentive and serious consideration. Such results are even witnessed in the comparatively easy treatment of syphilis, from the abuse of mercury, which is then secondary syphilis.
Hahnemann continues afterwards: "This pernicious effect of too large a dose may be observed already in the first sixteen, eighteen or twenty days of its action. In such a case it becomes necessary either to give an antidote, or if the antidote should not be known, to administer a very small dose of such antipsoric as corresponds most homoeopathically to the symptoms of both the natural and the artificial disease. If one anti-psoric should not be sufficient, another, of course, ought to be given, after having been selected with the same care".
How little an excessive dose is capable of displaying its full curative powers may be seen from the following remarks of the author of homoeopathy: "The excessive action of the otherwise homoeopathic remedial agent having been subdued by the proper antidote or by antipsoric remedies, the same agent may then be exhibited again, but of a much higher potency, and in a more minute dose". But this agent would have no effect, if a first powerful dose of it had not accomplished in the beginning all the good that the agent is capable of doing.
Finally, Hahnemann observes: "Nothing is lost by giving even smaller doses than those which I have indicated. The doses can be scarcely too much reduced, provided the effects of the remedy are not disturbed by improper food. The remedial agent will act even in the smallest quantity, provided it corresponds perfectly to all the symptoms of the disease, and its action is not interfered with improper diet. The advantage of giving the smallest dose is this, that it is an easy matter to neutralize their effects in case the medicine should not have been chosen with the necessary exactitude. This being done, a more suitable antipsoric may be administered".
This advice ought to be carefully considered, especially by the beginners, together with the warning which Hahnemann has expressed in the preface to his work on "Chronic Diseases". "What would they have risked, if they had first followed my indications and then employed small doses? The worst which would have befallen them was, that those doses would have been of no avail. It was impossible that they should do any harm. But instead of exhibiting small doses, they employed, from a want of sense and of their own accord, large doses for homoeopathic use, thus exposing the lives of their patients, and arriving at truth by that circuitous route which I had traveled upon before them with trembling hesitation, but the end of which I had just reached with success. Nevertheless, after having done much mischief, and after having squandered the best period of their lives, they were obliged, when they were really desirous of curing a disease, to resort to the only true method which I had demonstrated to them a long while ago. *